The California Legislature convened Monday to swear-in newly elected members and to vote for Senate and Assembly leaders.
Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Granite Bay), who has been an outspoken critique of the Legislature’s abdication of its Constitutional responsibilities during the COVID crisis, spoke passionately Monday to Assembly colleagues, reminding them just how much Constitutional authority they willingly gave away when Gov. Gavin Newsom began to illegally issue legislative executive orders.
Below are excerpts from Assemblyman Kiley’s speech and a video of it in its entirety. Every Civics teacher in this state should make Kiley’s speech required reading, and show the video to their students.
Assemblyman Kiley: “Yesterday the Legislature actually met – for a single day, in an NBA basketball arena.
The main purpose was to elect the Speaker of the Assembly. Incredibly, that meant re-installing the existing leadership. But I wasn’t going to let this happen in a pro forma manner.
I took to the podium and nominated another candidate, then gave a speech laying into Gavin Newsom and the Legislature for their historic failures this year.”
Many of us called on the Legislature’s leaders to take the COVID-19 crisis seriously.
And the Legislature did take it seriously – for itself. The Capitol was shut down entirely for months, almost all hearings were cancelled, strict protocols were followed. We’re in a basketball arena.
Legislators did everything humanly possible to protect themselves, while leaving the people of California bereft of the fundamental protections that representative government is supposed to provide.
As grocery clerks, construction workers, childcare providers, millions of Californians kept doing these essential jobs, Legislators refused to do theirs.
Our institution vanished, deeming itself inessential.
We sat back and watched as Governor Gavin Newsom seized legislative power for himself, falsely claiming that a State of Emergency, no matter how long it lasts, transforms California into an autocracy and “centralizes the State’s powers” in his hands.
Gavin Newsom made a mockery of the trust placed in him. Within weeks, he started talking about the coronavirus as an “opportunity” for a “new progressive era, an opportunity to reshape the way we do business and how we govern.”
But the outcomes have been anything but progressive. Our economy is doing about the worst in the country, our kids in poor communities are faring worst of all, our public health performance is middling.
Even the high priest of data analysis, Nate Silver, just referred to “the irrational and not-very-science-driven regime of COVID policies in California.”
Imagine if we as a Legislators had done things differently: if we had earned our paychecks, if we had stood our ground, if we had defended our Constitution, if we had rolled up our sleeves and met the challenges of this year head-on.
From the beginning, we could have insisted on data and evidence, focused on what actually makes a difference, and avoided the never-ending, know-nothing nightmare of colors and tiers; curfews and lockdowns; attestations and emergency brakes.
We could have said: If you’re going to keep millions of kids out of school – widening achievement gaps, stunting development, damaging mental health, concealing abuse, diminishing life prospects, shortening life expectancy – you better have a darn good reason for it.
Whatever the shortcomings of this Legislature, in this moment we have one inherent advantage: we are not Gavin Newsom. The fact is this Governor has lost all credibility with the public.
We need to take back the baton that never should have been handed off in the first place. We need to rebuild trust and forge a better path forward.